A top Criminal Division supervisor at Justice Department headquarters in Washington has returned to his home base in the Eastern District of New York.
Greg Andres, who served in an acting capacity as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General overseeing the Fraud Section from February 2010 through the end of last month, was previously an Assistant U.S. Attorney and chief of the Criminal Division in Brooklyn.
Andres served as a member of the so-called “front office” alongside Criminal Division chief Lanny Breuer, and served as a liaison between Breuer and Fraud Section chief Denis McInerney. He played a behind-the-scenes role in some of the section’s highest profile cases, including the long-stalled financial fraud prosecution of Texas financier R. Allen Stanford. Andres also supervised the division’s units handling capitol cases and appeals.
Andres had been commuting to Washington from his home in New York.
His 22-month tenure in the Criminal Division was marked “with great distinction,” AAG Breuer said late today in a statement to Main Justice.
“He has always brought a boundless energy and vision to his job,” Breuer said. “Greg is a fantastic lawyer and a truly tenacious prosecutor, whose deep devotion to the department and its mission has been invaluable to me and to the division.”
Last March, Andres said in Senate testimony that Congress needed to boost funding to fight Medicare fraud. He urged lawmakers to back recommendations by the U.S. Sentencing Commission to stiffen sentences for health care swindlers.
“These proposed amendments, if they become law, will subject health care fraud defendants to the possibility of even greater prison time than they already face, a prospect that we believe will be a more effective deterrent,” Andres testified. Senators agreed. Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) added defrauding Medicare and Medicaid isn’t “a victimless crime.”
Last July, President Barack Obama nominated Ronnie Abrams, Andres’s wife, a lawyer at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP in New York and the daughter of First Amendment guru Floyd Abrams, to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York in Manhattan.
Her political backer was Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York and former Davis Polk litigator. Andres, too, was a lawyer at Davis Polk when he met his future wife in 1997. They both then left to become federal prosecutors—she chose SDNY; he joined EDNY. Abrams returned to run Davis Polk’s pro bono program in 2008. Her judicial nomination has been pending since July.
Andres made headlines last spring when The New York Daily News and Main Justice reported that convicted mobster Vincent Basciano, who is also known by the sobriquet Vinny Gorgeous, was once ready to kill Andres. That claim surfaced in testimony from ex-mob capo Dominick Cicale in the penalty phase of Basciano’s trial.
Last May, Basciano was convicted of murder for ordering a hit on mob associate Randolph Pizzolo. Andres had played a role in taking down Basciano and his cohorts—all part of the Bonanno crime family. Basciano also supposedly wanted to bump off Andres because Andres had the temerity to dine every week at a mob-connected restaurant that was allegedly under the protection of the Genovese crime family.
It seems that Basciano, 51, who acquired his nickname because he is (or was) a fashion-conscious hair stylist, wrote the name of U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the EDNY and that of Andres, on a scrap of paper. Since the piece of paper also bore the name of three mob “rats,’’ federal prosecutors suspected Basciano’s motives.
Not to worry, Basciano cleared it all up during a May 6 closed court hearing as his fate for ordering the murder of a mob associate– the death penalty or life in prison –was being debated. The paper scrap wasn’t a “hit list” but rather a “Santeria list,” meant to ward off bad vibes under the Afro-Caribbean religion, Basciano explained.
“There was never, ever, ever at any time, judge, ever a plot to harm His Honor, Greg Andres, or three cooperating witnesses,” he emphasized.
Basciano did not receive a death sentence.
Andres could not be reached earlier today at his EDNY office.